THIS I DID NOT EXPECT. Or at least, in anticipation, I set the bar low. BMW’s mini-GS, the G 310 GS has not had the warmest of welcomes. You hear lots about it being Indian-made – inferring lesser quality – stories of reliability problems, and it not being a ‘real GS’. A bit of a Dinky toy, a kind of scale model of a GS for those emerging markets where real big bikes just aren’t affordable.
But riding the Rally Raid Products BMW G 310 GS, with a host of their upgrades, I’m getting a real GS vibe. I’m genuinely impressed. I’ve previously tested their upgrades to the Honda CB500X, which certainly uplift that bike’s performance to real travel bike potential, and if you’re a certain size (a smaller person) there is a sense of panacea about that bike. But it wasn’t for me. It was still a road bike that could dabble in dirt. But this BMW, no, this is most definitely a dirt bike, it sounds like one (being a single), feels like one, and while the suspension is on the soft side (not set-up for my 100kg) it actually handles like one. It feels like a GS, the genuine article.
WHAT IS IT?
We should know by now, it’s been around for the best part of a year, but a quick review of what we’re talking about is in order. Rally Raid Products are a UK-based company specializing in kit parts for rally and adventure riders. They’ve made a name for themselves first in rally-speccing KTM 690 Enduros and then adventure-speccing Honda CB500Xs. Now they’ve turned their attention to BMW’s newest, smallest GS.
The idea has been to make the little GS more rugged, more suited to off-road, which the standard bike with it’s OEM cast wheels and soft suspension is just not quite suited to. So RRP upgrade the wheels to a suitably tough looking set of wire-spokes (still 19”/17”) made using RRP’s own billet hubs combined with BARTubeless heavy-duty (powder coated) rims. The suspension can be upgraded to Level 1 or Level 2 spec. Level 1 upgrades the performance of the stock kit with better valving and springing, but Level 2 uses alternate equipment, with a fork kit and new shock from Dutch suspension specialists Tractive Suspension that brings up the suspension travel from 180 to a full 200mm. Then to fully protect the GS, RRP can provide a handlebar conversion kit (bar risers plus dirt spec’d alloy bars with hand guards) and various engine protection bars. A little added performance comes from swapping the standard silencer for a Scorpion unit that saves a full 2.5kg while only being a little louder than stock.
The most expensive items in that list are the wheels, at £1378 for the full tubeless set-up, while the Tractive shock is £958. Add in the crash bars and exhaust and the greater part of the upgrades are setting you back around £3250. That’s a fair hunk of money and if you add that to the price of a brand new 310 GS, at £5275, that makes the RRP BMW G 310 GS an £8525 bike or a bit more if you go through the whole catalogue of gizmos (such as alternative screen, 12v power sockets etc). That seems a lot, but motorcycles today have become very expensive and given the quality of this upgrade we’d put this bike up against the likes of Honda’s CRF450L (which sells at £9469). It is that good.
THAT GOOD, HONESTLY?
For a start we should respect the power plant in this bike. Ignore the 310cc capacity, ignore that it’s not made in Germany. It is a real techy motor. Like Yamaha’s WR250F enduro, it features a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, reversed rearward-slanted cylinder and that is a DOHC head on it. The Yamaha, being a full-on competition machine, pumps around 40hp, this GS, being a road bike unit with much longer service intervals (and having the benefit of a three year warranty) pumps a lesser but still impressive 34hp. That’s more than the Honda CRF450L, by the way, such are the quirks of EU homologation.
It’s a lively little performer. Needs a little rev to get going but the mid-range is strong and for most traffic situations it’s just fine, plenty powerful enough. And off-road, it’s great, there’s just that bit more pluck than say the Honda CRF250L/Rally and if you play the throttle it can traipse along just fine.
And the wheels and suspension, now being up to snuff, mean you can make the most of that motor. The 19” front works really well off-road, to the point where you’d think it was a 21” hoop. On the CB500X the geometry and weight distribution don’t feel natural off-road – they work well enough but you always feel that the Honda is a road bike cleverly adapted. On the 310 GS that’s not the case, with the RRP chassis mods it feels pukka, like an off-roader with added fairing, seat and a few niceties. You ride it pretty much as you would a regular dirt bike.
The point being, that fairing, the comfy seat and the bodywork will accept all manner of adventure baggage and add-ons (farkles in US-speak) and so actually help make the bike, rather than detract from it. The RRP 310 GS is dirt bike capable and road bike comfortable; for trail riding it’s one cracking tool. For UK green lanes it’s a lovely ride, easily capable enough – especially given the added ground clearance the kit brings – while for those connecting road sections it’s super comfortable.
Pretty soon you stop thinking ‘310’ and simply measure the bike for what it is. It has the capability of an old school 600/650cc single, with the new world 1200/1250 GS comforts such as ABS, luggage carrying and weather protection. For real adventure riding, where Autobahn blasting is not part of the game, it seriously works. Hand on heart, I’d pick this bike for a grand green lane tour of the UK – and that’s over a KTM enduro. Adventure is not a race.
A quick word on fuel. Tank size is a fairly mini 11 litres. But as the 310 can turn in around 80mpg (how we love to mix our measures!) that’ll make for 200 miles on a good day. Fitting a bigger tank isn’t really feasible, but adding a one-gallon Rotopax is not a big issue (RRP make a rack to carry one) and will extend that range by 80 miles or so. Enough for world travel, for sure.
Not only is the RRP BMW 310 GS a great bike, it’s proven. RRP like to test – practically destruction test – their kit and bikes. So this bike has been sent to the harshest environments and returned not just alive but in fine health. Former BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy competitor (2016, South East Asia) Amy Harburg rode her RRP BMW G 310 GS in the testing 3000km APC Rally across Australia’s outback, then rode the same bike up to Mongolia and across Eurasian continent back to the UK – a huge ride for any bike. The only issue: the sidestand fell off, a BMW recognised fault (now corrected). So this is a genuine, proven, go anywhere bike.
It seems crazy to be so excited about a ‘little 310’, but as said, this bike punches way above its weight. You can liken its performance (torque numbers aside) to a 600cc single. It bests Honda’s CRF250L/Rally by being more powerful and more comfortable and more readily adapted to the long ride. It bests Honda’s CRF450L on power and versatility, although the Honda has a big edge (wins hands down) on serious off-roading, it is after all a CRF450R at heart. But where the RRP BMW G 310 GS is serious scoring is that through the RRP upgrades it becomes a genuine adventure-travel bike. Simple-ish, light-ish, cheap-ish (if you consider the price of mega-ADVs), but properly fit for purpose. Yeah, it becomes a real GS.
BMW G 310 GS (RRP)
Engine: liquid cooled DOHC four-valve single cylinder four-stroke
Bore & stroke: 80.0 x 62.1mm
Max Power: 25kW (34bhp) @ 9500rpm
Max Torque: 28Nm @ 7500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox, wet multi-plate clutch
Frame: tubular space frame
Front suspension: 41mm USD forks, 200mm travel (with RRP kit)
Rear suspension: Tractive monoshock, 200mm travel (with RRP kit)
Wheels / Tyres: 2.50×19”, 4.00×17” – wire spoke wheels with Bartubeless rims
Brakes: Front disc 300mm four-piston caliper, Rear disc 240mm single piston caliper
Seat height: 835mm (BMW std). +20mm with RRP kit
Ground clearance: NA
Weight: 169.5kg (std: fully fuelled)
Fuel capacity: 11 litres
Contact: www.bmw-motorrad.com, http://www.rally-raidproducts.co.uk
UK price (std bike only): £5275